Persia Blues – Anatomy of a cover, part 1 (of 3)

We’re hopefully on the cusp of finalizing the cover design for Persia Blues, vol. 1, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the process behind the effort. My publisher, NBM, gave us complete freedom in suggesting cover treatments. That’s great in some respects, because we have total creative freedom, but it’s also a bit of a daunting situation to be in…because we have total creative freedom. Where to start? What kind of cover would best get across the essence of the book?

I had some initial ideas that I ran past my partner on the project, artist Brent Bowman:

“Show Minoo [our protagonist] in the center of the cover. The image is “cut” somewhat diagonally across her body, with the top part in the modern day Iran and the bottom in the other reality. Since her head and upper torso are in our world, show her wearing modern clothes, and maybe she has her hand up to her ear, holding in her iPod earphones while listening to music. Her other hand/arm at the bottom is holding a sword. If there’s room, you can also depict the city and ruins as backgrounds for each reality, or maybe even show Ahriman draped over top of the cover. Feel free to further juxtapose the two different settings with different art styles.

A variation of the above idea: a vertical split between the two realities, showing Minoo in the center, leaning back against herself (like a mirror image). The Minoo on the left is modern, holding an iPod, the Minoo on the right is in her Persian clothes, holding a sword.

I’d also suggest a couple of “ensemble cast” sketches…”

Granted, those maybe aren’t the most original ideas, but hey, I’m a writer, not a graphic designer! Luckily, that’s why Brent’s here. Taking those into consideration, as well as his own ideas, Brent came up with this initial set of roughs that we shared with our editor:

The masthead obviously isn’t the final one, it’s just a placeholder to give a sense of what the illustration would look like as a full-fledged cover. Personally, I really liked the last one, the wrap-around cover design, but I had a feeling it was a bit too busy for our editor’s taste, and I was right. He liked the “split closeup” designs the most (the 2 middle ones), pointing out that with the final trim size of the book being 6 x 9, the more elaborate illustrations just wouldn’t have the same impact as a simpler, bolder design. That made sense, so we embarked on a second set of roughs, variations on the theme of the design he liked.

Next: round 2 of designs, and my “tri-head” idea.

(go here for part 2)

Indie Cover Spotlight: Roachmill #4

Another one of my all-time favorite indie comics from the 80s, Roachmill:

From Blackthorne Publishing, which basically put out a metric ton of utter garbage, except for this series. Created, written, and drawn by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney, back in ’86. It only lasted 6 issues with that publisher, but the duo moved it to Dark Horse for another 10 issues.

My love for Roachmill is also documented on the Ferret Press blog here, where I describe the series as having “one foot in Looney Toons and the other in Raymond Chandler.”